The political atmosphere in Kano is heated and all observers are waiting anxiously to see how the coming 2015 elections unfold. Two parties are competing for all the political positions. The APC and PDP are the two major parties that every observer takes seriously even though one cannot dismiss the chances of other smaller and little or unknown parties. This article examines how Kwankwaso factor will affect the outcome of the 2015 elections in Kano.
The APC is confident that it will win the elections with an overwhelming majority because of a number of factors which include the progress they brought to Kano is self evident to grant them people’s vote and of course the Buhari factor. The PDP is also confident that it will win because of a number of factors which include manipulation of people’s emotions and the belief that Shekarau is still that Saint-politician of 2003 with huge support from masses (and that will be their Buhari-factor.)
Kano people will vote for presidential, gubernatorial and national assembly elections. The campaign for all the positions is intense, but the campaign for Kano Central seems to be most amusing and controversial. For politicians therefore, the most important and crucial seat in 2015 elections in the State is that of Kano central. One wonders why every radio program on politics is centred on Kano central senatorial seat. So the battle is that of supremacy between those who are with Kwankwaso and those who are against him. This problem will have serious implication for the chances of APC in Kano.
No observer, participant or listener of radio programs in Kano can ignore the desperation of Senator Bashir Lado of the PDP. Perhaps, no senatorial candidate in the history of Kano politics has mounted a mammoth and ferocious media campaign as Bashir Lado. Whether one likes it or not, he must hear Lado campaigning using many unconventional strategies and methods like buying groceries and meat for people, dashing moneys to women and paying hospital bills and using the radio to amplify it. This guy goes to the extent of having many programs to remain visible and relevant. Whether this will help him get re-elected or not remains to be seen. But what surprises observers is why is the man to beat showing reluctance in fighting for election to the Kano central senatorial seat? Is he scared of Lado and have already giving off or what could be the reason? Some are of the view that Kwankwaso is actually not scared of Lado and that he must have a strategy which many do not understand. Some are of the opinion that looking at his profile, he is just sure of himself and he assumes Kano people know that he will be a better representative of Kano than Lado and has decided to allow Kano people to chose for themselves. Time will tell.
Kwankwaso’s credentials for the senate seat are excellent. No one can doubt that with Kwankwaso as a senator, Kano will be well represented. First of all, Kwankwaso is a seasoned and polished politician. He was a member of the University of Nottingham (United Kingdom) senate representing students; he was a deputy speaker in the national assembly of the third republic (derailed by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida). So he is conversant with the workings of the parliament. He is exposed, articulate, bold and fearless. So, if he wins the senate seat and APC wins at the Centre, he can be a great asset to the party, if APC didn’t at the centre, he will still be a major force in the opposition.
In addition, if Kwankwaso lost in the senate elections, and APC wins at the centre, the party will lose a competent senator in the parliament. But, it is very likely that the APC led government will certainly have to work with Kwankwaso in the executive or somewhere else. So, for him, if APC wins at the centre, it is a win, win situation for him.
Now, why is Kwankwaso’s candidature facing so much opposition from within the party and outside it? Why are politicians very bitter about this fine son of Kano? Even though many observers and citizens of Kano State believed that Kwankwaso’s Autocratic/task oriented leadership style is the best style for Kano of today, arguing that he has delivered, many politicians see Kwankwaso as arrogant and hot-headed man who doesn’t care about their interests and welfare.
For true politicians, politics is all about self interest whatever it may be. To, many politicians in Kano and many other people who benefit from politics of ‘abundance’ in the past, Kwankwaso’s style is too mean, miserly and inconsiderate. They have serious grudges against him because unlike his predecessor, he did not ‘build people’ and so is useless politically speaking. One may ask, what can such politicians say about all the solid and visionary projects that his government has done in Kano? Even if one is blind, he would know that Kano has changed and it will certainly benefit from his educational and youth capacity building programs. The answer is simple; politicians are not after projects rather what they directly benefit from a government.
From within the party too, the opposition against Kwankwaso from within is another important factor that will decide the outcome of 2015 elections in Kano. From available information in the public discourse sphere, when APC was being formed, members from ANPP, ACN and CPC party were in the merger before PDP members decamped to APC. However, the decision of the party to give leadership position to a serving governor where one is available polarises other important figures in the other parties.
People like the former governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau could not imagined being under the leadership of Kwankwaso, so in order to remain politically relevant he, to the shock of many, decamped to the PDP, making him a politician in the true sense of the word. In politics, self interest is always ahead of collective interests.
Others who remained in the Kano APC stayed because they belief in the party whatever happens or whosoever leads it. Some stayed because they love General Buhari while others yet have a hope of getting some positions to contest. When the primaries for governorship and national assembly were held, most of those APC members from the Legacy Party lost. Some, like General Lawal Jafaru Isa, (a strategic general as he is) accepted defeat and go on with his political life. He now gives all his attention to the National APC and to Buhari campaign in particular. You hardly hear him in any controversy or making unguarded utterances. This earned him more respect and admiration from many reasonable and respectful people in Kano and in the polity.
Others, who feel bitter and or betrayed, decided to form an internal open opposition without leaving the party. Their sole goal is that of ensuring that Kwankwaso as a person lose the election at any cost, including giving the PDP serious advantage. So, this time is about the politics of vengeance. Between them, there is a rising dust of dark cloud of internal opposition which is short of being called an anti-party team. Their goal as they always claim is to ensure that Kwankwaso fails and NOT to harm the party. The question is how can they do this and what is the implication of this action to the outcome of the 2015 elections in Kano?
This internal opposition with the invisible helping hand of the opposition are busy demonizing Kwankwaso and trying to convince the electorate not to vote for him but still vote APC for other positions. This team is of the belief that they can make Kwankwaso lose without affecting the party. They are of the opinion that local electorate in Kano can differentiate between different ballot papers and can vote for PDP or any other party in Kano central and APC in other positions. Although this is a risky experiment that many see as an ill-informed strategy for APC, the members of internal opposition feel it is a risk worth taking.
Therefore, the people of Kano central will have to decide whether to vote for APC as their idol General Buhari said (SAK-at all levels), or help internal opposition and bring down Kwankwaso. The greatest challenge and defining factor in the outcome of 2015 elections in Kano central at least is how well or not so well the Kwankwaso factor has played a role.
In the end, as a citizen of Kano, I will not lose sleep whosoever wins Kano central or Kano State for that matter even when I prefer one party over the other, since my vote will not make that difference. Whoever Kano people finally voted for, all of us will share the dividend or bear the consequences.
As for politicians, after the elections, they will re-align themselves again. Those that are fighting today will become allies tomorrow and those who are friend might be the enemies of tomorrow. They are like that, they will never change. It is therefore a big challenge before the well informed people of Kano to responsibly educate their people to vote wisely. The choice we make is the choice we will live with for the next four years and continue to bear its consequences for God knows when. May God help us.
February 19, 2015
Shorter version was published on LEADERSHIP SUNDAY Newspaper of March 15, 2015 on page 67